Museums and galleries

Birmingham has two major public art collections. Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is best known for its works by the Pre-Raphaelites, a collection "of outstanding importance".

It also holds a significant selection of old masters – including major works by Bellini, Rubens, Canaletto and Claude – and particularly strong collections of seventeenth century Italian Baroque painting and English watercolours. Its design holdings include Europe's pre-eminent collections of ceramics and fine metalwork. The Barber Institute of Fine Arts in Edgbaston is one of the finest small art galleries in the world, with a collection of exceptional quality representing Western art from the thirteenth century to the present day.

The council also owns other museums in the city such as Aston Hall, Blakesley Hall, the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, Soho House, and Sarehole Mill, a popular attraction for fans of J. R. R. Tolkien. The Birmingham Back to Backs are the last surviving court of back-to-back houses in the city. Cadbury World is a museum showing visitors the stages and steps of chocolate production and the history of chocolate and the company. The Ikon Gallery hosts displays of contemporary art, as does Eastside Projects.

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Thinktank is Birmingham's main science museum, with an IMAX cinema, a planetarium and a collection that includes the Smethwick Engine, the world's oldest working steam engine. Other science-based museums include the National Sea Life Centre in Brindleyplace, the Lapworth Museum of Geology at the University of Birmingham and the Centre of the Earth environmental education centre in Winson Green.
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